Buoyant India aiming for a kill against Windies

Published: Friday, January 26, 2007, 23:53 [IST]
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Chennai:Buoyed by the twin success at Nagpur and Cuttack, the Rahul Dravid-led India will be keenly looking forward for a series-clinching victory in the third ODI against West Indies at the M A Chidambaram stadium here tomorrow.

West Indies, on the other hand, are still uncertain about the fitness of skipper Brian Lara, whose strapped knee forced him to sit out in the last match.

The under-pressure Caribbeans would be playing for pride to keep their hopes of drawing the four-match series, which would do their morale a world of good ahead of the preparations for the World Cup in March at home.

In the tall-scoring affair at Nagpur and in the low-scoring match at Cuttack, India did well to defend with the bowlers, despite taking a stick from the blade of left-hander Shivnarine Chanderpaul, rising to the occasion.

Considering that India have just six matches to play, including four against Sri Lanka, the contest assumes more significance as it would provide one more opportunity for the men in blue to get the right balance before flying to the Caribbean Islands for the show piece event.

With a fully fit left-hander Yuvraj Singh, making his way into the side after a lay off due to injury, and leggie Anil Kumble too included at the expense of all-rounder Joginder Sharma and medium pacer R P Singh, the Indian think-tank will find it difficult to pick the final eleven for the day-night contest.

The left-left combination at the top -- Gautam Gambhir and the comeback man Saurav Ganguly -- has got it right so far, notwithstanding their performance at Cuttack where the batsmen struggled on a two-paced wicket. But Sourav has been rested for this match.

The experienced Dravid, who showed his slogging prowess at Nagpur, and Sachin Tendulkar, yet to find his silken touch in the series, lends solidity to the middle order, which has been further strengthened with the in-form Dinesh Karthik and Yuvraj.

Having showed enough pluck at the top when he was asked to open in the deciding test against South Africa at Capetown and a forget-me-not knock of 63 runs in a technically-sound innings against all odds at Cuttack, all eyes would be on local hero and last match man-of-the-match award winner Dinesh Karthik, who would be playing for the first time in an ODI before the home crowd.

In bowling, seamers bowled a nagging line and were among the wickets, while spinners spun the Windies to doom at Cuttack, along with the Sachin's magical leg spin and the cutters.

The positives of the series are the performance of Indian bowlers, who proved their worth by bowling well in the last ten overs, to turn the tables on their rivals.

West Indies, on the other hand, would be under pressure to perform, despite being high on morale even after two narrow losses. But the biggest question is whether Lara will be in the scheme of things. Lara said the left knee, despite being a bit sore was getting better and he was keen on playing as the team had to win this game and stay in the series.

With scores of 149 and 67, Chanderpaul was the nemesis of the Indian bowlers as he virtually batted the 50 overs in both the matches.

Chris Gayle and Marlon Samuels came up with good scores in a featherbed of wicket at Nagpur. Since the pitch at Chepauk is expected to favour strokeplay, it would provide a chance for them to get back their touch.

Ian Bradshaw, Jerome Taylor, Darren Powell, Dwayne Smith, and Dwayne Bravo came up with good spells and Chris Gayle and Marlon Samuels chipped in with their gentle off spin.

The pitch at Chepauk is different from what the teams encountered in Cuttack. It is expected to favour the batsmen. But the dew factor would play a crucial role.

Fine weather, no rain threat and a full match on the cards, especially after the wash-outs on a couple of occasions in the past, promises to be a month-watering contest. But it is certainly going to be Advantage India when the first ball is bowled tomorrow.


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